All Or Nothing

In recent weeks (months? years?), I’ve been thinking about how voting, and politics in general, tends to be handled nowadays in the good ol’ U.S. of A… It doesn’t matter if you agree with the vast majority of what a particular candidate, or congressional bill, you stand for: if there is one hot-button issue you disagree with, that means you simply can’t vote for it. Around election time, we call these people “single-issue voters,” those that typically decide that they like everything a candidate says, but since they’re Pro-Life (or Pro-Choice, occasionally…) and the candidate disagrees with that one issue, that means you can’t vote for them (the death penalty is another one that fits that bill, amongst many others, I’m sure).

I think of this more recently in the context of the on-going health care debate. As Obama said in his Address to Congress on September 9th, 80% of what is in “the bill” (or, more accurately, the various iterations of bills floating around the halls of the Capitol) is agreed upon by both Democrats and Republicans. They all want to get rid of denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, they all want to keep costs down, they all want to increase competition, etc….but as long as that “public option” is on the table, some won’t support it. Since when is 80% not “good enough?” In school, that constitutes a “B,” which while not being an excellent grade, necessarily, is certainly good enough for graduation and a half-way decent GPA. That’ll get you into college. That’ll get the job done.

I think, largely, many people agree on the vast majority of issues: murder is bad, babies are cute, hair should be washed, and so on. And years ago, the U.S. government got along fine with the agreement on most issues related to their debates, when finally they would compromise and get something passed (yes, it’s true…although, living in today’s society makes us forget that government can work for the benefit of its citizens, and can do so efficiently). Today, however, we find ourselves in an era of conflict. Who wants to watch a reality show about a happy family? Or a cop drama when no crimes happen? People nowadays won’t pay attention to anything unless there is some conflict, something to fight over. Maybe people have always wanted conflict to entertain them, and perhaps politicians finally realized that and figured out that, to make more money from donors, they need to be in conflict all the time in order to get extra exposure, and thus, extra cash.

What angers me most is that compromise doesn’t happen anymore, perhaps of that “conflict craving” (heck, I’d argue that the divorce rate is so high mostly because of a lack of compromise). There was a time when it behooved both sides (in marriage or congress) to agree most aspects of a plan and then focus on a more central issue: both sides would lose something, but both would also make gains because the goal was met. That’s how compromises work. It has worked well for centuries and should still work today.

It angers me because the compromise, in the particular issue of health care, is the so-called “Public Option,” as that is the logical middle ground between a single-payer system and a fully deregulated health insurance industry. The compromise is on the table already and it isn’t “good enough” for some people. Both sides agree on the majority of issues related to the debate, but the single issue holding it back is one where the compromise has already been made, providing both sides with necessary gains for their political careers, as well as American society as a whole.

Maybe “good enough for government work” is 80%? Or at least should be?

Yet another perspective

If you wanted a nice, succinct summary, here it is. This was posted on YouTube on August 20th, but Brian was kind enough to alert me to it via Facebook. This particular guy points out all of the other socialized aspects of life we have, including police, water treatment, the coast guard and, in his example toward the end of the video, firemen. He outlines what it would be like if we had private fire insurance, and how you’d have to find a preferred fire department by your insurance company to come put out your fire…and you’d better hope you don’t have a pre-existing condition.

He also briefly points out that Medicare has maybe 2-3% of overhead, as they are a non-profit organization. Private insurance companies, on average, have more like 30-35% that they’re skimming off each of our dollars to pay not only overhead, but also their investors. Because they are “for profit.”

Anyway, it’s an amusing little video. It would be nice if all the crazies out there understood that they use socialized things all the time in this country (read: roads, police, military, sewers, parks, fire departments, etc.) and they don’t have a problem with those. All of those things are apparently “rights,” paid for by our tax dollars…but for some reason, quality, affordable health care isn’t a “right.”

Today’s Two Videos…

This _should_ come out in time for Thanksgiving…which would be awesome, ’cause I can only imagine the Thanksgiving crowd at Brooke’s ‘rents house doing some four-player New Super Mario Bros. This is the perfect game (next to Mario Kart) for putting a controller in someone’s hands and letting them have some old-school Mario fun…and all at the same time, rather than taking turns.

This one is another healthcare-related video, this time featuring Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) telling off some chick that was asking why he supported Obama’s Nazi policies. She apparently didn’t realize what she was getting into, especially in that Frank is not only quite liberal and out-spoken, but also Jewish…and he doesn’t take these types of “Nazi” comments lightly (nor should he…or anyone…). Anyway, it’s only a little over a minute long, but at the very least, watch the last 15 seconds when he says, quite possibly, the funniest thing I’ve ever heard come out of a congressperson’s mouth.

So, so true…

To Put Things In Perspective

I really like Jon Stewart’s compilations off right-wing hypocrisy (you know, like when Bill O’Reilly says that it was the Nazis that went in and disrupted meetings…when, at the time, he was talking about Democrats… I doubt he still agrees…), which is why I post this. It’s a few minutes into the video, but the rest of it is very much worth the watch, anyway.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Healther Skelter
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Spinal Tap Performance

It just puts things in perspective, better than I’d heard elsewhere thus far.

On a side-note, had a blurb up about how Jon Stewart is actually loved (well, “respected,” at least…) by many Neoconservatives, including Bill Kristol.

From the article:

“‘There is genuine intellectual curiosity,’ [Cliff] May told New York [Magazine]. ‘He’s [Jon Stewart] a staunch liberal, but he’s a thoughtful liberal, and I respect that.’ May isn’t the only conservative gushing about Stewart. While the movement professes a disdain for the ‘liberal media elite,’ it has made an exception for the true-blue 46-year-old comedian. ‘He always gives you a chance to answer, which some people don’t do,’ says John Bolton, President Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations and a Fox News contributor, who went on the show last month. ‘He’s got his perspective, but he’s been fair.’ Says Bolton: ‘In general, a lot of the media, especially on the left, has lost interest in debate and analysis. It has been much more ad hominem. Stewart fundamentally wants to talk about the issues. That’s what I want to do.'”

The author of the Rawstory article calls Jon Stewart “this generation’s Mark Twain,” and I think I’d have to agree.

More on Health Care

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Keith Olbermann did a nice job a few nights ago outlining another aspect of this argument, specifically how much money the insurance industry (and health industry as a whole) is pouring into buying votes in Congress. He points out some of the key individuals holding this up, Republican and Democrat alike, and how much money they’ve made in political support over the years. It’s a 13 min video, but pretty eye-opening.

One point he made in the first 3 minutes was one that I haven’t heard brought up often, however, was with regards to “bureaucrats getting in the way of the patient and the doctor.” Specifically:

“Wow, Senator [John Thune (R-SD)] — this illustrates how desperate you and the other Republicans are, right? Because Sen. Thune, if you really think ‘bureaucrats and politicians’ need to get out of the way of ‘patients and their doctors,’ then you support a woman patient’s right to get an abortion, and you supported Michael Schiavo’s right to take his wife off life support, and you oppose ‘bureaucrats and politicians’ getting in the way, and we’ll just mark you down on the pro-choice list. That’s a rare misstep for you Sen. Thune.”

This is an excellent point and it really shows how hypocritical these guys are. Bureaucrats have been trying to get between “you and your doctor” for years in the form of Pro-Life conservatives, amongst other things, but that’s the one that’s the real sticking point for me. These are the same people that say you can’t have an abortion. Well, that’s a politician making a decision for you. But they say that these decisions should lie between you and your doctor. Waitaminute…[head spinning in confusion]

The whole thing drives me nuts…

Obama wants to kill old people!

Rachel Maddow has this 7 min segment discussing how the crazies are now coming out to say that health care reform is simply a backdoor to assisted suicide of the elderly. Seriously. That’s what’s being debated on the floor of the House. And on right-wing talk radio. The idea that Obama wants to kill old people.

The whole debate is getting rather annoying, honestly. There are all kinds of proposals being put forward from the Left, yet the Right is stopping at “tax cuts and stopping companies from denying you because of pre-existing conditions.” Sure, they’ll keep you and give you insurance, but jack up your premiums to high heaven to account for it. And if that’s all that they’re really proposing, then they have no comprehensive plan. Tax cuts and that simple regulation aren’t enough to fix the problem(s).

Reform needs to happen and we need to work together to get something useful passed. In my opinion, a Public Option should be included, but at the very least a LOT of regulations need to be imposed upon the private insurance industry if I plan on being able to afford health care in 10 years. Even if a Public Option isn’t included in the final bill, profits need to be reigned in at these health care companies, and I seriously doubt that any Republican-backed plan would suggest that.

Spreading fear and doubt about the existing ideas (i.e. “this plan will kill you!!”) is simply not helpful, and if anything, prevents anything from getting done. Much like back in 1993 when we tried getting something done, and it was stopped by similar tactics. And by “we,” I mean the Left. Because the Right is apparently just fine with where things stand.

CSPAN’s Entertainment Network

It’s funny to watch Gratzer squirm. 🙂

I wasn’t the biggest fan of Kucinich during the Primaries last year…he’s a little too left, even for me…but I like his stance in this CSPAN video (only 2.5 min long…). He’s calling out Dr. David Gratzer, the author of a book titled “The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Healthcare.” Apparently, Gratzer rails against the Canadian health care system, pointing out the typical, tired conservative arguments of “6 month wait times” to be seen by a physician. Kucinich isn’t having any of that, pointing out Canadian studies showing that the median wait time is 3-4 weeks for certain procedures (ones that aren’t life-threatening, otherwise they’d be done sooner), which is apparently similar to that of the United States. And, nearly all of Canadians have health care. And it’s affordable. I’m sure Gratzer has some good points in the book (which I haven’t read…because I don’t read…), and some of his statistics are probably sound, but there are a wealth of other statistics carried out by the Canadian government and other organizations that say otherwise. “Lies, damned lies, and Statistics…”

Although this particular video doesn’t bring it up, I’m sure you’ve heard various Republican congresspeople (specifically, John Boehner…) asking the question: “do you want a bureaucrat in Washington coming between you and your doctor?” Well no, I don’t. But neither do I want some profit-hungry businessperson doing it either, and that’s what we’ve got right now. Brooke and I are lucky to have some pretty good health care, as I’m attending a medical school-based graduate program and have it available to us. I can’t begin to imagine what other folks are going through, that have to pay and arm and a leg (sometimes literally) for coverage that is worse than ours with a substantially higher deductable. It just annoys me that they keep spouting off this “bureaucrat coming between you and your doctor” rhetoric like it’s any different than what I’ve got now.

At least, if I’ve got a bureaucrat between me and my doctor, I have the opportunity to vote them out of office. I can’t do that to a CEO.